The Power of Social Media: Should Jewish Organizations Jump on The Social Media Bandwagon?

So I thought I’d share this interesting debate I’m having with my sister with you.

My sister, like me, has traveled the world. She’s lived in foreign countries and traveled Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and the Middle East. She’s visited small little villages in South East Asia and she’s even been stranded in a Typhoon on Mauritius, a tiny tiny island off of Africa.

My sister used to be a costume designer and then worked in sportswear manufacturing in Hong Kong. She led a pretty interesting life. Most of her travel was related to her business, unlike me, who was a vagabond backpacker traveling the world for discovery and adventure.

At some point in her travels, and the details are too many to go into, she became more and more devoted to her religion. And with that she became a part of Modern Orthodox Jewish society, in Hong Kong no less.

She now lives amongst the religious community in Baltimore and has traded her exotic travels and creative clothing design for creative teaching methods while working with an Orthodox school for girls. It’s an interesting juxtaposition sometimes since my sister has chosen to conform to a more traditional lifestyle yet she herself was very unconventional for many years. She definitely keeps within the parameters of the society and yet she pushes the envelop at times with her creativity and worldly experience.

Her most recent venture is to win a grant to help her school. This is actually a contest where you can vote on your favorite idea. This is where the debate comes in. Her community, her school and her family embraces the belief that social media is something to be kept at arms length. They are wary of the addictive behavior some take on when using facebook, twitter and the like, and they want to safeguard their children from the ills that lurk on the internet. Fair enough.

The Jewish Communities’ plight to figuring out the appropriate and best use of Social Media is no different than that of businesses when they first dipped their toe into the Social Media Stream nor that of Charities, non-profits and philanthropists.

My sister believes that what she is applying for while marketed as a “Grant” is not really a grant because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of her idea for education, it has more to do with popularity. So I in turn have explained the trend toward public opinion choosing the receipts to such grants as the Pepsi Fresh Grant and others like it. These large companies that have always done philanthropic works are not only giving money away for a good cause but creating a social media playground surrounding the “Grant” contest.

This is a changing trend, and without the support of a whole community much needed money for ideas and improvements can be given to others simply because they understood the need to go “viral” with the idea to the masses who would support it.

Because of the current uncertainty in the community about the good of social media, her school did not want the fact that she was applying for this “Grant” in an online contest to go out to the parents.

What parent wouldn’t want to see more money come in to their school? By allowing the parents to know about the grant contest, I’m sure this could up her number of votes. They reluctantly agreed to let the faculty know about it. My sister herself is not on facebook to support and convey the value message that has been formulated in her family and in her community.

Well of course when I heard about this contest, I took to my favorite medium, facebook. No stranger to the power of social media it was primarily my contacts through facebook that powered the positive outcome of the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest last year.

With my facebook efforts (And a little twitter thrown in) I’ve seen her ranking in the contest bump up from number 27 to number 14. I’ve been posting it on my wall, within a group of friends and family members my mother started, and most recently to Jewish fan pages on facebook.

I’d love to make a case to open her school and perhaps her community up to the positive impact social media can have on a project, a community or a cause. It’s not all addictions and child predators. There are 130 people trying to win this grant. The top 10 will win.

Please go to this link and help my sister win so we can prove a point to her community about the power of Social Media and how it can be used for good.

Voting closes tonight at midnight.